How anti-bullying, sex ed, and even science programs aim to convert students.
Evert is far from alone. Religious groups keen on getting their messages to teenagers have found an effective way to do it at public expense. They come into public schools under the banner of substance abuse programs, character education, anti-bullying education, or sex education. Then they set aside the education and get down to the business of promoting a religious message, sometimes along with a partisan political agenda.
The problem of faith-based assemblies in public schools is not new, but they are occurring under new guises, and their frequency appears to be growing. These publicly supported proselytizers take advantage of two key trends. Under relentless budgetary pressure, public schools increasingly allow outside groups to develop and manage courses that previously originated inside the school. At the same time, theSupreme Court has set a very high threshold for concerns related to the Establishment Clause, or the separation of church and state—or, in this case, church and school.
Evert is an engaging speaker. At a lecture this fall, an assembly of approximately 800 students in ninth and tenth grade at Canutillo High School in El Paso, Texas, listened to him closely and laughed at his jokes. The lecture cost the school $1,000, which it paid to the crisis pregnancy center House of Hope, which arranged for Evert’s travel to El Paso. The program was titled “Love or Lust: Empowerment, Self-Worth, and the True Meaning of Love.”
When the laughter dies down, however, what the students are left with is a stark view of intimate relationships that is grounded in Evert’s religious convictions and an endorsement of entrenched gender hierarchies. In Evert’s worldview, girls and women are either “pure as snow, all chastity” or “disrespecting themselves.” Men and boys are lustful cads who can’t be blamed for treating “unworthy” girls without respect or dignity.
Evert regularly cites “studies” that support his worldview. Actually, he doesn’t cite studies—he just refers to them. When you locate the studies to which he is most likely referring, they are either of dubious quality or misrepresented.
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